Canadian government shows why ubiquitous access for all is a pipe dream

Over the years as others have pontificated about how the Web will one day be everywhere and available to all I have for the most part pointed out the stupidity of this kumbaya Web 2.0 warm and fuzzy ideology by raising the issue of cost of access.

I like to point out that as long as the current crop of broadband gatekeepers keep control of access within their grimy grasp all the while charging us through the nose for substandard services there will be no such thing as a ubiquitous web access.

To which the leading bleeding hearts like to suggest that my argument is faulty because of things like community groups which they envision as becoming the communication hubs for those poor folk who can’t afford the blood money wanted by the broadband providers.

Well ya I guess you might have a point except what happens when a government decides that these community groups don’t need as much, or any, funding at which point they start cutting back on services or in the end – closing their doors.

This is the case in Canada where the Federal Conservative Party (the one in power) has decided that these groups don’t need as much money and have quietly been cutting funding to hundreds of frontline community organizations including hospitals.

In Industry Minister Tony Clement’s riding, the West Parry Sound Health Centre administers the funds for 46 different community sites that will likely see their funding disappear because they don’t fit the new narrow criteria.

Co-ordinator John Lee got involved with the program from its inception in 1994, when it was called SchoolNet.

He says it’s a vital resource for organizations in rural communities where people don’t always have access to high-speed Internet or sometimes even a computer.

At the health centre where Mr. Lee works, the public computer is used by long-term and emergency care patients and their families. The facility went from one computer to 10 over the last decade, and doesn’t know if can keep its program alive.

“This is one of the most successful programs and services that Industry Canada has had,” said Mr. Lee, who has personally appealed to Mr. Clement.

“It’s really unfortunate, with the small amount of money, when you consider the larger part of the budget.”

Karen Deluca of the Arnprior Public Library in eastern Ontario, said $3,000 is a lot for a small library.

“It’s a vital link for everyone. It puts everyone on the same footing across Canada,” said Ms. Deluca, who sees people come in to draft resumes, download programs, or do homework.

“There are still many rural communities who still do not have high speed access at home.”

Source: Globe and Mail

It’s no wonder with this kind of attitude that Canada is sliding down the technology scale when compared to other countries in the world; and where we were once in the top five. I guess all that lobbying and election campaign donating is finally paying off for the major broadband companies.